Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENGL 100 Huynh: Evaluating Information

How do I determine if a website is reliable?


Adapted from the Meriam Library, California State University, Chico

Currency: Timeliness of the information

When was the information published or posted?  Has the information been revised or updated?  Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?


Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

Who is the intended audience?  Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs?) Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?


Authority: The source of the information

Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?  What are the author’s credentials or organization affiliations?  Is the author qualified to write on the topic?  Does the url say anything about the source?


Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

Where does the information come from?  Is the information supported by evidence?  Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?


Purpose: The reason the information exists.

What is the purpose of the information?  Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?  Do the authors make their intentions or purpose clear?  Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?  Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?


Tips for Evaluating Resources

These are not meant to be a comprehensive list, just tools to help you determine whether to use a resource or not.


Check to see if the Author's published anything else on the topic

  • Do a search for the author's name in Google Scholar to evaluate the authority of a scholarly article by seeing what other research the author has published. Ask: Has this author published other articles on the same or similar topic? Have they published recently?

Google Scholar search box with author Magnus Lofstrom in the search box. There are 1,840 results.


Track down the source of an image

  • Is there an image in the article that seems suspicious? Do a reverse Google Image search to find where the image came from.


Check to see what other sources say about the website

  • If you are using a website do a Google search that allows us to look for all references to the site that are not the site itself:

Now you have a set of results that you can scan, looking for sites you trust:

A Google search tip demonstrating how to exclude a specific site from search results. The string used in the example is “”. This would search all sites except for “”

These results, as we scan them, give us reason to suspect the site. Maybe we don’t know “City Paper,” which claims the site is fake. But we do know Snopes. When we take a look there, we find the following sentence about the Gazette:

On 21 September 2016, the Baltimore Gazettea purveyor of fake news, not a real news outlet — published an article (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. reporting that any “rioters” caught looting in Charlotte would permanently lose food stamps and all other government benefits…

From Snopes, that’s pretty definitive. This is a fake news site.

Tip: Especially look at the Wikipedia articles and the Media Bias Fact check webpage about these news sites.


Adapted from Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers

Evaluating Scholarly Article Authors Activity

Evaluating Scholarly Article Author Activity


  1. Get into groups of about 3.
  2. Turn to the bookmarked article in the scholarly journal handed out in class.
  3. For the purposes of this activity we will only be evaluating the first author listed.
    Answer: what college, university, or research institution is the author associated with? This should be listed either by the author's name, at the bottom of the first page, or at the very end (after the references) of the article..
  4.   Now, search for the first author listed in Google Scholar.
    a. Have they published anything else on this topic?
    b. Have they published anything recent (within the last 5 years)? How about the last 10 years?